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How to Make a Super Bowl of Chili

Updated on August 22, 2011

That’s Some Good Chili!

When you have friends over to watch the big game, you need something for them to munch on. Chips and dips are fine in their way, but if you’re watching the biggest game of the year, you’ll want to be able to serve a super bowl of chili at halftime. Here’s an easy way to make a super bowl of chili without having to miss the first half of the sports event of the year.

The Secret is in the Bowl

Well, the pot, really. See, you’re going to cook it in a crock pot. You won’t have to do much more than stir it a couple times, so you won’t miss the game (or the commercials, if that’s why you tune in), and you’ll still end up with some mighty fine chili. There’s no reason to confine this recipe to game day; anytime you expect a large group of friends, and have about a four-hour warning, go ahead and whip this up. If you start cooking when you get up in the morning, you can even spend the day cleaning up (or spraying everything with Febreeze and hiding your laundry in the closet, depending on what kind of housekeeper you are) and be all ready by the time the guests arrive.

Image Credit: Paul M. Walsh, via Wikimedia Commons
Image Credit: Paul M. Walsh, via Wikimedia Commons

I Have to Admit, it Was Pretty Super.

I originally wrote this in February, 2009, shortly after watching Super Bowl XLIII. This is the first time its been published beyond my circle of friends.

So I didn't much used to enjoy watching sports. This is a holdover from my youth, when I was fairly clumsy, smaller and weaker than most of my friends, usually picked last for teams, rarely did much (despite my best efforts, which weren't really all that good) to help my team, and generally made fun of for it. I developed, and nurtured, a deep antipathy for sports of all kinds and a smoldering resentment for people who were good at them.

I've since gotten over it. I still mostly stink at sports, but it doesn't bug me so much. Plus, playing in EMU's spirit band helped me to appreciate the beauty that can happen when someone makes a great play. But generally, I'd rather be at the game rather than watching it on TV. It's an atmosphere thing, y'know? And I kinda miss playing in the spirit band.

So anyway, last night I watched the Superbowl with my family. I didn't care who won, and really, I was more interested in the commercials, but dang if there weren't some freaking amazing things happening on that field!

A hundred-yard interception return for a touchdown? I have to admit even I, with my old disdain for sports, was cheering for the guy (James Harrison) who did that. People will be talking about that moment for years. If the Wide World of Sports was still on, that clip could be the new "thrill of victory" sequence.

That run was just the best of several game moments. The Cardinals scoring that TD in the last couple minutes was another good one. I thought they had it sewn up, and probably so did some of them. But then the Steelers managed to put the ball all the way back the other direction before the clock ran out. Amazing.

Even more amazing? I started actively watching the game, and asking questions about rules subtleties. This amused my wife to no end. She was her high school's football statistician and knows a lot more about the sport (and sports in general) than I do, which is always good for a laugh. I imagine she's relieved, though, that now we can all four of us sit down and really enjoy a game together, without a trace of grid-irony.

The Ingredients

A standard 16 oz can of black beans

A standard 16 oz can of pinto beans

A standard 16 oz can of kidney beans

A standard 16 oz can of refried beans

A standard 16 oz can of crushed tomatoes

An 8 oz can of tomato paste

A 32 oz can of tomato sauce

A large onion (maybe two), chopped


At this point, you have all you need for vegetarian chili. (Check the ingredients on the can of refried beans! It may contain lard, which is made of animals.) If you want meaty chili, you can brown a pound of ground beef (or ground turkey, buffalo, or venison, whatever you like) and throw it in, too. You must brown the ground meat before putting it in the slow cooker, or it may not cook thoroughly by the time you want to serve it. You’ve been warned.

*You can spice your chili in the crock pot if you want to. I do. I like to slice up a couple of nuclear chilis I got at the local farmers market and put them in at the beginning. The spice gets spread evenly through the chili and each bite brings a tear to your eye. But maybe some of your friends don’t like food that makes them cry. In that case, don’t put anything stronger than black pepper in the chili while it’s cooking, and supply an array of sauces for your friends to amp up their bowls to their own tastes. I’m partial to Dave’s Insanity for sheer heat, but there are many fine hot sauces to choose from.

Here’s What to Do

If you’re including meat (and you probably are) brown the ground meat. When it’s cooked through, dump it in the crock pot.

Open the can of black beans and dump it in the crock pot.

Open the can of pinto beans and dump it in the crock pot.

Open the can of kidney beans and dump it in the crock pot.

Open the can of refried beans and dump it in the crock pot.

Open the can of crushed tomatoes and dump it in the crock pot.

Open the can of tomato paste and dump it in the crock pot.

Open the can of tomato sauce and dump it in the crock pot.

Chop the onion(s) and dump it (them?) in the crock pot.

Dump any spices you might be using into the crock pot.

Cover the crock pot and set it to “low.”

Ignore it for about two hours.

Stir it up enough to mix all the ingredients more or less evenly, and put the lid back on.

Ignore it again until halftime.

Put it in bowls and eat it.

As described, this recipe will feed six adults with some of them coming back for seconds more than once. If you need to feed more people, put more ingredients in.

Hot Sauces You Might Like

No Argument: This is Super!

Gotta Have a Go-With

You’re probably going to want something besides just chili if this is your main meal. You can go with burgers or hot dogs (chili is good over hot dogs!), or if you want to keep with a southwestern theme, you can make some quesadillas. Tortilla chips (plain ones) make a good side dish as well. It’s also nice to have some bowls of shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and/or chopped onions for the folks to either to put on the side or to garnish their chili, because when it comes down to it, every person has their own ideas about what makes a super bowl of chili.

**The phrase “Super Bowl” is a registered trademark of the NFL, and they get all litigious when people who aren’t them use the word without acknowledging their copyright. Therefore, I acknowledge it here, so I won't get sued the way some grocery stores have been when they advertised a "Super Bowl Special."

Finally, Because I'm a Sucker for a Bad Pun...

Superhero Superman Dinnerware: 3 pcs Children dinnerware
Superhero Superman Dinnerware: 3 pcs Children dinnerware

A super bowl to put your chili in while you watch the Super Bowl. Just hide the Kryptonite first.



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    • Jeff Berndt profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Berndt 

      8 years ago from Southeast Michigan

      They really thicken it up.

    • Tim_511 profile image


      8 years ago from Huntington, WV

      First time I've seen refried beans in chili. I may have to try that some time. I have taken to using black beans instead of kidney beans.


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